EXCLUSIVE: Filmmakers on the rise in Covid cases, lockdown, its impact: ‘Cinema industry is the most affected’
Pinkvilla spoke to Jayantilal Gada, Shibu Thameens, Ahmed Khan and Umesh Shukla to understand the impact of the recently imposed lockdown
Considering the steady rise in the Covid-19 cases since the last month, new lockdown rules and guidelines were issued by the Maharashtra Government recently. Because of the pandemic, just like every other sector, the film industry too had been majorly impacted. When the theatres were allowed to operate at 100 percent occupancy from January 2021, it had come as a major relief for filmmakers, exhibitors and distributors. However, with the cinema halls in Maharashtra being shut once again, we reached out to a few producers and directors to understand its impact on the film business. In fact, Akshay Kumar and Katrina Kaif starrer Sooryavanshi which was scheduled to release on April 30, too has been postponed again because of the rise in the Covid cases.
“Of course, the lockdown will have an impact on the film business, but at the same time one’s life is more important than business. The Central and the State Governments are trying their best to bail us out of this situation, and it’s important that we cooperate with them to support them in this task. Like many other nations, the process of vaccination is catching speed in India as well, and I am sure once things get back to normal there will be a surge in our business too. Everyone is tired sitting at home, and while we have been watching a lot of films in the confinement of our homes, one cannot replace the theatrical experience of watching a film,” says filmmaker Jayantilal Gada.
He is backing SS Rajamouli’s RRR and Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Gangubai Kathiawadi. “Both of our big films RRR and Gangubai Kathiawadi will release in theatres, as we aren’t even considering a digital release for them. They are absolutely on track, and we are hopeful that with the Government and people’s support, things will eventually get back to normal,” the producer adds.
Baaghi 2, Baaghi 3 and Heropanti 2 director Ahmed Khan reiterates that the rise in Covid cases is affecting everyone, but no one can really anticipate what will happen in the future. “Yes, we are in a crisis and there are financial losses too, but there is nothing more important than one’s life. Jaan hai toh jahaan hai. The best part is that everyone in the industry is united, and people are giving way for previous films to release which have been stuck for a while because of the pandemic. I am sure eventually we will all come out of this,” Khan says.
Producer Shibu Thameens who’s producing the Vikrant Massy and Vijay Sethupathi starrer Mumbaikar says that when they had started shooting for the film in January, everything had opened up again and there were less restrictions. “Santosh Sivan Sir (director) and the entire crew were aware of the fact that this is a virus that spreads very fast, and we need to protect ourselves from it. So all the department heads, Saahil, Zaffer, Elvira, Anirudh, Naresh, Kuku, Milind, Kartik, Parag and Vishal updated each of their team members to keep consuming hot water at regular intervals and follow all other protocols to safeguard themselves from Covid. And thankfully by God's grace during the entire two month schedule no one tested positive for the virus. We should not let the livelihood of the common and working class people get affected because of the shutdowns. The cinema industry is the most affected, just like tourism, and I think it’s time that the industry should become proactive and overcome the situation by supporting and helping each other.”
OMG – Oh My God director Umesh Shukla states that the situation that was in the second half last year, won’t be repeated in 2021. “I am hopeful that positive changes will happen post May or June. Of course we have seen a huge loss in the first half this year. It's financially taxing when you announce a film but can’t release it. There has been a rise in the Covid cases, because people started taking the situation lightly. It is important that people take all the precautions and follow the rules strictly for things to come back to normal. It will take some time, but it will improve I am sure,” Shukla signs off on an optimistic note.
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